Port of Seattle Executive Director Stephen P. Metruck introduced his preliminary 2024 budget and 2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan this week. Port leaders have held public briefings for Commissioners over half a dozen times over the past six months, culminating with a presentation on the proposed plan of finance and Port tax levy earlier this week. The Port Commission plans to introduce the preliminary budget and hold a public hearing at its November 14 public meeting before adopting a final budget on November 21.
With annual operating expenses of $624 million and a five-year capital plan of $5.6 billion, the budget and capital plan build upon years of historic investments to improve delivery of Port services. The proposed expenditures will deliver on the Port’s mission to promote economic opportunities and quality of life in the region by advancing trade, travel, commerce, and job creation in an equitable, accountable, and environmentally responsible manner.
“In an era defined by economic paradox and worsening geopolitical uncertainty, the Port’s essential services, highly diversified businesses, and major capital investments provide the region economic power and resilience,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director Metruck.
Strong demand for travel and trade demonstrates the enduring need for the Port’s services and drive reinvestment. More than half of the Port’s funds come through operating revenues from aviation, maritime, and real estate lines of business, and the Port’s share of earnings from the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA). By law, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is self-funded and is supported by fees, federal grants, and operating revenues, rather than tax dollars.
Forecasts indicate that 2024 should be the strongest year ever in the history of airport and cruise operations; in fact, for the first time ever, the Port is projected to reach $1 billion in revenue. Despite this favorable outlook, however, economic factors — especially persistent inflation, workforce recruitment and retention challenges, and global tensions — pose risks to progress.
“In this budget we take a strategic approach. We start with an ambitious set of capital improvement projects to make operation of our aviation and maritime gateways more efficient, effective, and sustainable in a time of rising demand. We continue our world-leading efforts on sustainability and equity in a way that supports the community and the globe, while making our business lines more competitive and resilient. And we support our workforce — Port employees and those of our tenants, vendors, and business partners — to recruit and retain the people we need to operate successfully,” Metruck concluded.
“Despite the historic scale of this budget, the Port must prepare for even larger transformations in our future,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho. “Our vision for the port of the future requires bold investments to maintain a competitive global gateway, reach for that ‘5 Star’ status for our airport, and become the cleanest and greenest port in North America. We also want to make sure that our growth benefits our region’s residents, particularly those who have been historically left behind. We have the momentum and vision and are optimistic about our ability to build a port of the future.”
For more information on the Port’s plans, including brief explainer videos and fact sheets, visit the 2024 budget page.
2024 Operating Budget Summary
Total operating revenues: $1.0 billion; $77.0 million or 8.1 percent above the 2023 budget
Total operating expenses: $623.5 million; $50.1 million or 8.7 percent above the 2023 budget
Net operating income before depreciation and non-operating expenses: $407.2 million; $27.0 million or 7.1 percent above the 2023 budget
2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan Summary
Capital spending is the largest category for Port spending and is a major driver of regional economic activity. Capital spending will reach a generational peak next year and plateau at historic highs. For more information on capital plans, visit the Upgrade SEA or Maritime and Economic Development project pages.
The total five-year Capital Improvement Program is $5.6 billion; total capital budget for 2024 is $842.7 million
Aviation Division 2024-2028 capital plan is $5 billion, an average of $1 billion a year to improve existing facilities
Maritime and Economic Development Division 2024-2028 capital plan is $579 million; an average of over $100 million per year on maritime and economic development projects
Property Tax Levy
Each year the Commission reviews and approves the amount of and expected uses of the tax levy. In 2023, the median King County homeowner paid approximately $80 to the Port in property tax levy. Just 1.2 percent of the King County homeowner assessment goes to the Port of Seattle.
For 2024 the preliminary levy is $86.7 million, a 4.8 percent increase from the $82.7 million levy in 2023. This proposed increase will help fund:
Estimated $62 million in capital investments in Seattle’s working waterfront and maritime industries
Levy-funded maritime capital projects including NWSA container terminal improvements in Seattle, redevelopment at Fishermen’s Terminal and Terminal 91 (berth and uplands improvements), and the new Maritime Innovation Center
$12 million in continued support of community programs such as the South King County Community Impact Fund; workforce development including the Youth Career Launch and Airport Employment Center; City of SeaTac Community Relief; Economic Development Partnership grants with cities around King County; the Seattle Aquarium Partnership; the Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program; and small business and regional tourism support
$6.1 in environmental cleanup
Featured 2024 Initiatives by Division
Execute new Signatory Lease and Operating Agreement (SLOA) with airlines; Support airline acquisition of sustainable aviation fuel at SEA with the purchase of emission reduction benefits/attributes; Begin updating the Part 150 Noise Remedy program; Increase partner participation in the Allies Against Human Trafficking initiative; Work to evaluate next steps to provide affordable, high-quality childcare for airport workers; Complete draft of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review of Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP); Expand the Upgrade SEA program
Institute structure and resources for strong project delivery; Advance Pacific Northwest to Alaska Green Cruise Corridor Initiative; Finalize and implement Parks Management Strategy; Expand shore power connection at terminals; Develop and implement sustainable fleet strategy; Continue to advance maritime diversity in hiring strategy to encourage the next generation of maritime industry workers
Economic Development Division
Implement outreach and technical assistance initiatives to help Port small business partners; Utilize tourism grant program to advance sustainable and equitable tourism events and destinations; Support maritime innovation initiatives to promote and help advance maritime startups; Support regional economic growth via the Economic Development Partnership Program; Advance the Community Business Connector initiative; Support Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program’s economic development initiatives
Environment and Sustainability
Support regional port collaboration on maritime decarbonization; Advocate for state and national decarbonization policies; Ongoing collaboration to address resiliency issues for the Seattle Waterfront; Continue with kelp research and the Seattle Aquarium Partnership; Invest in the Quiet Sound Underwater Noise Reduction Program; Support habitat restoration and monitoring; Investment to address Scope 3 emissions (Aviation/Maritime Ground Transportation)